An Invercargill-based fertiliser company has apologised to its workers after dumping a noxious contaminant that led to at least two people needing hospital treatment.
Taha Asia Pacific said it is working with Environment Southland to comply with orders issued by the Environment Court relating to it dumping the noxious contaminant.
Taha managing director Mark Egginton said in a statement the company was working quickly and professionally to comply with orders, and understood the seriousness of the situation.
''We would like to apologise to the workers affected by this material and acknowledge that we had misinterpreted advice on how the material could be safely used," he said.
''However, I want to make it clear that the safety of staff and integrity of the environment remain at the core of the Taha philosophy.''
Taha Asia Pacific and Taha Fertilizer Industries Ltd were served interim enforcement orders by the Environment Court after it was found they dumped aluminium dross at Crawford Enterprises in Coalpit Rd, Edendale.
However, Egginton said the material used at the Edendale site was called Ouvea premix and not aluminum dross as had been misreported and incorrectly identified in the documents filed with the Environment Court.
Ouvea premix had substantially different chemical characteristics than dross, was less hazardous and had different requirements under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996, he said.
Ouvea premix could safely be used as a foundation material if mixed with concrete or lime. However unfortunately in this instance, it was only mixed with gravel which was not enough to make it safe to use, he said.
''While we can't undo this situation, we are committed to doing the right thing. We will not rest until we meet all our obligations to clean up the site and fully address any environmental consequences of this incident.
''We will also ensure that valuable lessons are learnt from this event and become part of the way we operate in the future.''
There were further stocks of Ouvea premix stored in Southland, awaiting the building of the fertiliser plant, but they were fully contained and in secure warehousing.
These stocks presented no risks to the public or Taha staff, he said.
- The Southland Times